The Enigma Machine

Lead: When your enemy is stronger and is about to destroy you, the most important thing you need is the information about how he is about to do it.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: During the early years of World War II, Germany and Japanese forces seemed everywhere to be victorious. It quickly became clear that Britain and France and after them, the United States had to break the enemies’ code. 

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Crash of the Hindenburg III

Lead: Expanded to huge dimensions and filled with highly flammable hydrogen gas, German airships became an important element of Hitler’s propaganda machine.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 one of the most important champions of the German Airship was Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. The Fuhrer himself was not impressed and refused to set foot in a dirigible, feeling them a creation contrary to nature. Without Goebbel’s enthusiasm the Zeppelin program would probably have died since the construction of a large airship was as costly as that of a heavy battleship.

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Crash of the Hindenburg II

Lead: Used as bombers during World War I, giant German lighter-than-air ships called Zeppelins were turned to commercial uses in the 1920s and 1930s.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: If one wanted to travel between continents in the early 1900s, there was one choice. You had to go by ship. While the dream of flight had been realized first by balloons and then by the Wright Brothers’ airplane, aircraft engines were not strong, efficient, or safe enough to lift cargo and passengers over long distances. For just over two short decades from World War I to the eve of World War II, the dirigible seemed to be the solution to fast intercontinental travel.

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Narvik – II

Lead:  In the Spring of 1940 the town of Narvik on the northwest coast of Norway was the scene of one of the first naval battles of World War II.

Intro. A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The combination of geography and strategic importance conspired to prevent Norway from maintaining its neutrality in the early months of World War II. Germany needed the Swedish iron ore that was shipped through Narvik during the winter months. When it became apparent that Britain was going to intervene, Hitler ordered the invasion of Norway.

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Narvik – Part I

Lead:  High on the shoulders of the Scandinavian land mass is the small sub-arctic town of Narvik, Norway. In the early days of World War II, Narvik was a strategic target of the British and the Germans.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Until the spring of 1940, Norway had hoped to preserve its neutrality, but it was soon apparent that geography would bring that dream to grief. The coast of Norway was too important for the Germans to let it fall into allied hands. Much of German iron ore came from mines in northern Sweden. During most of the year the ore was shipped through the Gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea, but in winter the Gulf froze and the ore was sent overland to the port of Narvik on the Atlantic coast of Norway and from there through the Leads, a narrow waterway between the mainland and a series of barrier island just off the coast.

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Fritz Haber and the Double-edged Sword of Synthetic Nitrogen II

Lead: In the early 20th century German chemist Fritz Haber developed the process leading to the creation of synthetic nitrogen. His brilliant innovation, however, is very much a double-edged sword.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After his initial breakthrough for which he received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1918, Haber was made the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry in Berlin. With the outbreak of World War I, he led in the development of poison gas. His motives appear to be mixed, partly emerging out of intense German patriotism, but also in hopes that the use of gas would hasten the end of the bloodletting. He returned home greatly disappointed in the war’s result, but also conflicted over his own role in the use of chemical weapons. Haber’s wife committed suicide shortly thereafter, it is said partly in revulsion over her husband’s complicity in the wartime carnage. After the Nazi takeover in 1933, as an ethnic Jew, he saw that even his long-time loyal service to Germany would not protect him against the coming barbarity and accepted a post in Cambridge, England. He died in obscurity in 1934.

 

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Fritz Haber and the Double-Edged Sword of Synthetic Nitrogen I

Lead: By 1900 world population was beginning to outstrip agricultural capacity. Farmers could not grow enough to feed the people. Then Fritz Haber solved the nitrogen problem.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The three main nutrients required for successfully growing plants are potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Good top soil contains them in sufficient amounts to grow crops, but after long use, soil becomes depleted of these ingredients and must be renewed. Potassium and phosphorus are economically available in sufficient quantities to be put back easily, but nitrogen is not. Nitrogen is in the air. It is a gas that is a large part of the atmosphere. Getting it into the soil for plant synthesis is very difficult. Traditional farmers added plant clippings and animal waste, rotated crops or planted legumes such as beans or lintels, so-called green manure, to restore the soil and increase yields. Traditional agriculture could not keep up with an exploding world population. Farmers were losing the battle.

 

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The Dreyfus Affair IV

Lead: Imprisoned for treason he did not commit, French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus became the focus of a great national crusade.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Dreyfus was clearly innocent. His 1894 conviction was fixed by military authorities anxious to protect the Army from the embarrassing discovery of a German spy in the War Ministry, but they got the wrong man. While Dreyfus served his sentence on Devil's Island, the infamous French prison colony off the coast of South America, his family and a growing number of supporters worked to prove his innocence. Among the most prominent of the Dreyfusards were George Clémenceau, the future wartime Premier, and the novelist and left wing agitator, Emile Zola.

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